Casual Culture

When my in-laws visited us this summer we had to stop by the mall to get something for my father-in-law. He works as a buyer for a department store up north and, while in a Belk, he made an astute observation. He noticed that the men were wearing suits down south, whereas up north department store retail clerks dress far more casually. He went on to mention the impact this has on customers; seeing someone dressed more professionally gives the consumer the impression that they will receive better customer service from someone more knowledgeable about what they are trying to sell. Whether you want to believe it or not, I took note whenever I walked into a retail establishment to see how other customers would respond based on the dress of an employee – modern casual or more traditional – and came to the conclusion that he was spot-on in certain stores. I guess it just made an impression on the customer to see someone exhibit an outward degree of professionalism in their dress; making said customer feel they’d receive more professional service. Although there are plenty of jobs out there where professional attire is still the norm, we are seeing a far more casual dress code with each passing year. I don’t have problem with this, but I have seen a more casual attitude about parts of our culture which I find disconcerting.

A young woman I know recently told me she was pregnant. She has a steady boyfriend whom she is living with, but they are not married. In the end I offered my congratulations – she will make a good mother, in my opinion, and I’m glad she’s having the baby – but it took me a few moments to steady myself. So many people today regard their relationships, especially sexual ones, far too casually these days. Sex is a big deal, I don’t care what others in movies, music, books, radio, magazines, etc, say – SEX IS A BIG DEAL! Just look at the animal kingdom; sex is essential to the survival of the species through the production of offspring. If it’s that big a deal in nature, making it a casual thing is dangerous. Sex complicates relationships, even without an unexpected pregnancy or disease. I’ve known too many people who’ve broken up after sexual relationships that go through an emotional minefield – the intimacy of the act of sex suddenly being broken off breaks the heart and soul far more so than if they didn’t engage in sex. You are giving your very self to the person – that’s not a casual act. And when the other person ends it you are left without part of yourself. Or, if you know you need to end the relationship, it becomes exponentially harder to do so once that line has been crossed. It makes men and women linger in relationships lacking adequate love, which is beyond the physical.

As sex is being treated more and more casually these days, so is marriage. If it doesn’t work out, oh well, just get divorced. Ask anyone who has been divorced, even if it made them happier to get divorced, whether or not they could go back in time and do things differently. Even divorced people who  wouldn’t change anything because of the kids would admit that marriage is not a casual thing to walk into lightly. Couple that with all the financial and legal ramifications of divorce and you can see marriage, like sex, shouldn’t be regarded so casually. If it were a casual thing lawyers wouldn’t have to get involved.

Life if complicated enough. It should be taken seriously. As much as I like to joke around, I won’t do so when it comes to my relationships with others – not my wife, not my kids, not my family, and not my friends. They are important to me, and our relationships with one another are important to the whole world. We need to be forever vigilant in strengthening our relationships. And that cannot be done casually.

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